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Posts tagged ‘Tom Cole’

Republicans Call Debt-Ceiling Vote ‘Missed Opportunity’ for Sanity.

Image: Republicans Call Debt-Ceiling Vote 'Missed Opportunity' for Sanity From left: Reps. Paul Ryan, Marsha Blackburn and Paul Broun

By Todd Beamon

House Republicans told Newsmax on Tuesday that they opposed Speaker John Boehner’s plan for a one-year extension of the nation’s borrowing limit without restrictions because it would not hold President Barack Obama and Democrats accountable to work toward greater fiscal responsibility.

“This is a missed opportunity,” said House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin. “We need to pay our bills today and make sure we can pay our bills tomorrow.

“I’m disappointed that the president and Senate Democrats refuse to get serious about our fiscal challenges,” Ryan said.

“Raising the debt ceiling without any guarantee of future spending cuts is irresponsible and only makes our nation’s debt problem worse,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, of Tennessee.

Rep. Paul Broun, of Georgia, said he voted against the bill because “we cannot continue to fuel the president’s spending addiction by increasing our nation’s borrowing limit and leaving our children and grandchildren with bills they simply cannot afford to pay.”

The House vote on the “clean” spending bill was 221-201, with only 28 Republicans supporting the measure. Two Democrats, John Barrow of Georgia and Jim Matheson of Utah, joined the GOP in rejecting it.

The vote marked a dramatic shift from the confrontational fiscal approach of House Republicans over the past three years, culminating in October’s 16-day partial government shutdown, which cost taxpayers $1.4 billion.

Discussions this time had concerned linking the debt ceiling to defunding Obamacare — part of last year’s unsuccessful effort — or to a repeal of planned cuts in military pensions.

Under the legislation, the debt ceiling would be suspended until March 15, 2015, allowing the government to keep borrowing beyond its current $17.2 trillion limit. Afterward, however, the new ceiling would equal the amount of debt the government has accumulated in total.

The Senate could vote as early as Wednesday on the legislation.

The vote even split the top GOP leadership, with Boehner, Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California backing the measure.

But the House’s No. 4 Republican, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington state, the highest-ranking GOP woman in the lower chamber, rejected the bill, along with Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma, chairman of the Republican Policy Committee, and Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, head of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“We can continue to ignore the problem of out-of-control spending, or we can address it,” McMorris Rodgers said. “Unfortunately, the Democrats who run Washington refuse to seriously address our crushing debt in any other way than higher taxes, which isn’t fair to those in eastern Washington and across America.

“If President Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate refuse to address our spending addiction when a debt limit increase is requested, when will they?” McMorris Rodgers asked.

Lankford said, “I could not vote to increase our national debt ceiling because the legislation did not offer long-term spending reforms or a plan to prevent having this same debate in the future.”

“We must stop pretending our national debt is not a major issue even though it already exceeds a completely incomprehensible amount,” he added. “On behalf of my daughters and future generations, I will not support taking the easy road today but make it harder in the future,” Lankford said.

Said Walden, “Previous debt-limit negotiations have resulted in historic agreements that reduced spending. I stood ready to work in a bipartisan way on another such agreement, but the Democrats have been unwilling to discuss even modest proposals to reduce the deficit.”

In addition, the Club for Growth and other conservative groups had urged legislators to reject the measure.

“When we heard that House leadership was scheduling a clean debt-ceiling increase vote, we thought it was a joke,” the Club for Growth said on its website. “But it’s not. Something is very wrong with House leadership, or with the Republican Party.

“This is not a bill that advocates of limited government should schedule or support,” the club said.

The Senate Conservatives Fund said in a fundraising letter that Boehner should be replaced.

“Republicans are giving up because they know that winning is impossible when their leaders are determined to lose,” the group said on its website. “These leaders have telegraphed weakness to the Democrats and sabotaged conservative efforts so many times that Republicans now have no leverage.

“Unless we install a new leader who will actually go on offense, Democrats will never fear us and we will never have any leverage,” the group said.

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, told Newsmax that the House failed to “heed the warning that reaching the debt ceiling provides” and did not “use this speed bump on the road to national bankruptcy as an opportunity to deal with the root cause of our debt crisis: out-of-control spending.”

“By passing the unconditional increase in the debt ceiling that the president demanded, the answer to this question sadly appears to be no,” Hensarling said.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma noted how Obama has refused to negotiate with Republicans over the debt limit. He reiterated that position heading into this round of talks.

“Every negotiation requires a negotiating partner, but the president has remained intransigent and refused to find common-sense solutions,” Cole said. “I have shown time and again that I am willing to work in a bipartisan manner to solve our nation’s most pressing economic problems, and I will continue to do so.

“The legislation presented today is not that solution,” Cole said.

Rep. Matt Salmon of Arizona said that “major reform is needed in an area that is swiftly consuming our GDP and is moving our entitlement programs toward insolvency. With today’s vote, we continue to show an addiction to spending and a negligence to address the root of our spending problems.”

Blackburn’s “Volunteer State” State colleague, Rep. Diane Black, was even more blunt.

“Our looming debt crisis threatens the security of the nation we leave behind for future generations,” she said. “Without needed reforms to address the drivers of our debt and deficits, the bill simply gives President Obama a blank check to continue borrowing against our children and grandchildren’s future.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

House GOP Ties Votes on Debt Limit to Defunding Obamacare.

Image: House GOP Ties Votes on Debt Limit to Defunding Obamacare

By Lisa Barron

House Republicans appear to be moving closer to tying an increase in the debt ceiling to a repeal of the insurance company bailout clause in Obamacare.

After another meeting of members Tuesday, aides indicated that removing the “risk corridor” provision in the healthcare law seemed to have more support than a plan to link the debt limit to approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, reports The Hill.

“Listen, the goal here is to increase the debt ceiling. No one wants to default on our debt,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters after the meeting. “But while we’re doing this, we should do something either about jobs or the economy, about the drivers of our debt. And so we’re talking to our members, and when we have a decision, we’ll let you know.”

But it is still not clear that either proposal will gain the necessary votes for the House to pass its own bill to raise the limit by the late-February deadline set by the Treasury Department.

And some GOP legislators have indicated they would not oppose the approval of an increase in the debt ceiling without any conditions.

“A clean debt-ceiling [bill] would not garner my vote, but if the House leadership chooses to go that route and believes that’s in the best interest of the country and they don’t need my vote to accomplish that, I’m OK with that,” Rep. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told The Hill.

Conservatives say they are also wary of another showdown four months after an impasse over the debt ceiling led to a government shutdown that damaged the GOP’s image.

“There is an understanding by conservatives in light of history and the trajectory that we’re on right now, that you cannot make all the demands that we would like to make,” Rep. Scott Garrett of New Jersey told the publication.

House aides say they expect the legislators to reach a conclusion by the end of this week,reports The Washington Post. 

Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told the newspaper that Boehner would spend the week “looking for a sweet spot.”

“We’re in the process of sorting it out.” He said. “The number one question is: how do we get to 218 votes?”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


McMorris Rodgers Seen as Rising Star After SOTU Response.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, who delivered the first GOP response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, is getting rave reviews from her fellow Republican colleagues about her future in the GOP.

“She’s one of our best messengers,” Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told The Hill. “She an attractive and able spokesperson. Just look at her political skills, how far she’s come.”

“It’s hard not to see a very bright future,” he added.

Story continues below video.

McMorris Rodgers was elected by her colleagues to chair the Republican conference in November 2012, making her the No. 4 Republican in the House and the highest ranking Republican woman in Congress.

A former Republican aide to the House leadership said she managed to avoid the curse that others have faced after delivering State of the Union responses in the past.

“She certainly did an excellent job in her response, which is something that a number of alleged presidential contenders cannot say,” the aide told The Hill. “The State of the Union response platform has been more of a trapdoor than a springboard for future political success.”

Robert Costa of The Washington Post said that McMorris Rodgers’ response was “largely” successful.

“The challenge for McMorris Rodgers will be whether she can seize the moment and build the national profile that so far has eluded her,” Costa wrote. “It’s an open playbook for McMorris Rodgers.”

“With all she had to offer Tuesday for a party that is struggling to close the gender gap and rebound from back-to-back defeats in national elections, it’s a wonder she hasn’t appeared on the scene sooner,” he added.

Some suggest that she would be a great choice as a vice presidential candidate or a top office in Washington state. According to The Hill, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney considered having her join his ticket before he decided on Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. However, Romney did appoint her as his liaison to the House in 2012.

McMorris Rodgers is also the first woman to give birth to three children during her five-term tenure in office.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Courtney Coren

Rep. Cole: GOP Happy to Help on Obamacare Fixes.

The GOP is happy to help the president on Obamacare fixes, Republican House Deputy Majority Whip Tom Cole said Wednesday.

“We are happy to help where we can,” Cole told MSNBC‘s “Morning Joe.” “People forget we’ve already given him ideas. And, seven of them have become law.”

The seven laws passed by Congress and signed by President Obama saved the country $62 billion, Cole said. When it comes to ideas, he explained it was the president who has been lacking.

“We have been putting ideas on the table. Frankly, the president hasn’t put many ideas on the table. This is his legislation. It’s not worked well,” Cole said.

On Tuesday President Obama launched a campaign to promote the benefits of Obamacare, and encourage people to enroll in the program. During his speech Tuesday, he invited Republicans with ideas to “bring ’em to me,” The Los Angeles Times reported.

Cole said there were “200 pieces of Republican-sponsored healthcare legislation” in Congress, and pointed to two in particular as worthy — a bill sponsored by Georgia Republican Rep. Tom Price, and another by the Republican Study Committee, that he cosponsors. He said Republicans have many ideas and are “willing to sit down and work with the president.”

It’s wrong to blame Republicans for problems currently associated with the implementation of Obamacare, Cole maintained. The president is the one accountable for the problems with the law, he said.

“I think this was the president’s responsibility. This is his signature legislation. So you can’t, sort of, blame the failure on us, when we’ve been against what’s failing from the very outset,” he said.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Wanda Carruthers

Rep. Cole: Congress Must Avoid Government Shutdown.

Image: Rep. Cole: Congress Must Avoid Government Shutdown

By Amy Woods

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole said Sunday that Congress will focus on passing a budget and place immigration reform on hold when it reconvenes.

“I think the most important thing right now is to make sure we don’t have a government shutdown, to make sure we deal with the debt ceiling,” Cole said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t think [a government shutdown is] likely, but, look, we’ve stumbled into one before that I didn’t think was wise and didn’t think should occur.”

On the issue of the Affordable Care Act, Cole predicted doom for President Barack Obama’s remaining term and legacy.

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and the first impression here was terrible, and I think it’s going to be an unfolding disaster for the president,” Cole said.

While the White House unveiled an improved and functioning website Saturday, the rollout of Obamacare remains rocky.

“The individual market is pretty tiny compared to what’s yet to come,” Cole said, regarding the enrollment of Americans as they join the exchanges. “I think as that unfolds, this thing is going to be an unmitigated political disaster for the president.”

Reacting to Pope Francis’ recent white paper about capitalism and growing economic inequality in the United States, the Republican seemed to side with the pontiff.

“I think this is a very hopeful message in terms of what our obligations are as individuals,” Cole said. “I don’t see this as an attack on the existing system, but I see it as a very useful corrective and a call for us to be better people.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Boehner’s Debt Ceiling Plan Falls Short of Votes.

Image: Boehner's Debt Ceiling Plan Falls Short of Votes

By Todd Beamon

House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to avert a government shutdown by turning to a debt-ceiling battle encountered stiff opposition from some Republicans on Thursday, as House leaders fell short of votes on a plan to exchange GOP demands for a yearlong suspension of the nation’s $16.7 trillion borrowing limit.

“We still have some challenges,” Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma and member of the GOP whip team, told The Hill. “We’ve got an awful lot of support, but clearly at this point, we don’t have a final product that’s attracting the number that we need.

Editor’s Note: Should ObamaCare Be Defunded? Vote in Urgent National Poll 

“Hopefully, that’ll change — and I think it could,” Cole said.

He told the Hill that leaders were still working on the plan, which was presented in a private meeting with rank-and-file Republicans. The plan had been expected to go to the House Rules Committee on Thursday.

But GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington told the Hill late on Thursday that leaders were “still figuring out the timing” of a vote to raise the nation’s debt limit as part of the plan.

The House debt-ceiling vote could be scheduled for as early as Friday, the Hill reports, as GOP leaders seek to tie their battle over government spending to the debt issue, where they have long believed to have stronger leverage over the White House.

The House maneuvering comes as the Senate planned to vote Friday on a $986.3 billion stopgap spending bill that the House approved last week. The vote would send the measure back to the lower chamber.

Still, it remains uncertain that both chambers can strike a deal before the government’s funding authority expires on Tuesday.

The options become even more complicated once the Senate removes the language defunding Obamacare from the House bill that was approved  230-189 last week.

Boehner and House Republicans say they will offer other proposals before sending that measure back to the Senate, which could require another round of votes — as time runs out before a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

Further, Boehner said on Thursday that the House would not pass  a “clean” spending bill — without the Obamacare language — after the Senate acts, but added that he had “no interest in seeing a government shutdown.”

“There will be options available to us, there’s not going to be any speculation about what we’re going to do or not do, until the Senate passes their bill,” the Ohio Republican said.

In the private meeting with Republicans late Thursday, Boehner presented a plan that linked spending cuts, looser regulations and a delay in Obamacare to an increase in U.S. borrowing authority.

More specifically, the proposal would seek to increase means-testing for Medicare, reduce the Medicaid provider tax, revise medical malpractice law and eliminate a public-health fund as part of the 2010 law.

In addition, Republicans want to eliminate a tax on medical devices under Obamacare and require a Social Security number to receive a child tax credit, according to the proposal.

But the Boehner plan hit stiff opposition from Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, and Mo Brooks of Alabama.

“It looks like a $1 trillion increase, and it doesn’t meet the Boehner one-for-one rule,” said Huelskamp, who opposed Boehner as speaker. He said the debt-limit proposal also doesn’t balance the U.S. budget in 10 years.

As of late Thursday, Huelskamp said, “at least 18” GOP representatives would oppose Boehner’s plan. Beginning Friday, Republicans will hold a 232-200 House majority, and could afford to lose no more than 15 members on a party-line vote.

In 2011, Boehner had supported a dollar-for-dollar match between spending cuts and raising the debt ceiling. Now, he’s pairing “reforms and cuts” with a debt-limit increase, expecting that any forthcoming revenue would stem from faster growth caused by lighter regulation, his critics say.

“This debt-ceiling package does not fix the underlying cause of the problem, which are the deficits,” Brooks said after the session. “We need to significantly cut government spending.”

Meanwhile, in the Senate, an effort by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada to move up a vote on the House spending measure — the “continuing resolution” — to late Thursday was stopped by GOP Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

The Senate instead will hold several votes on the resolution on Friday, which Reid has said would exclude the House Republican language denying funds for Obamacare.

GOP legislators believe they can force President Barack Obama to accept concessions in a debt-limit fight, although he has said repeatedly that he won’t negotiate, including earlier on Thursday.

“I will not negotiate on anything when it comes to the full faith and credit of the United States,” Obama told an audience at Prince George’s County Community College outside Washington. “Congress needs to put an end to governing crisis-to-crisis.”

Editor’s Note: Should ObamaCare Be Defunded? Vote in Urgent National Poll 

Without congressional action on the debt limit, the government will run out of borrowing authority on Oct. 17, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said.

The government then would need to operate on a cash basis, not being able to pay its bills at some time from Oct. 22 to Oct. 31, the Congressional Budget Office said.

Bloomberg News also contributed to this report.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Boehner Plans Short-Term Spending Bills, Defers Obamacare Fight.

Image: Boehner Plans Short-Term Spending Bills, Defers Obamacare Fight

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner warned rank-and-file Republicans in a conference call on Thursday against using the threat of a government shutdown to stop the implementation of Obamacare, according to people on the call.

Boehner told those on the call that they would move forward forward next month with an unencumbered short-term spending bill and defer the health-care fight until November or December during negotiations to raise the government’s borrowing limit.

Some GOP leaders fear that, because Mr. Obama won’t sign any measure hampering the health law, known as the Affordable Care Act, a so-called defunding fight could lead to a government shutdown.

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One GOP lawmaker who participated in the conference call said he was “stunned” by Mr. Boehner’s plan. “There’s no chance they have Republican votes to pass that,” the lawmaker told the Wall Street Journal.
In the call, Boehner reminded Republicans of the political backlash their party suffered when the government shut down in 1995-1996, according to one person on the call.

Another participant in the call, Oklahoma Representative Tom Cole, said the speaker’s main message was that he and other leaders were still committed to killing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law but that they did not want a government shutdown.

Republicans agree strongly on their opposition to Obamacare, viewing the law as a burden to businesses that will cost jobs.

But the party has been roiled by heated debate over the strategy for trying to stop the law.

Hours before Boehner’s conference call, about a third of the Republican caucus sent a letter to Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging them to oppose any annual spending bills that include funding for Obamacare.

Without an agreement between Congress and Obama on fresh legislation to fund federal agencies, the government could shut down on Oct. 1. Even many Republicans believe Obama would never agree to sign a spending bill that removed funding for his signature domestic policy achievement.

Cole disagrees with the idea of using a government shutdown threat to try to take aim at Obamacare but added, “the frustration is how do you keep fighting it without taking an action that is counterproductive.”

On the call, Boehner sketched out a plan in which Republicans would pass a short-term measure to fund the government until around December while insisting on keeping in place steep cuts in spending known as the “sequester.”

When Congress reconvenes on Sept. 9 after its summer break, Boehner said, “Our intent is to move quickly on a short-term continuing resolution that keeps the government running and maintains current sequester spending levels.”

Earlier on Thursday, about a third of the Republican caucus sent a letter to Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urging them to oppose any annual spending bills that include funding for Obamacare.

The letter was spearheaded by Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina and got the signatures of 80 House Republicans.

During the call, one member asked Boehner, “Can you at least announce that you want to defund Obamacare?” Another asked Boehner how he would get a short-term spending measure passed, according to one person on the call.

Congressional Republicans have sought repeatedly to repeal the law.

While Republicans say the law will hurt job creation, supporters view it as a landmark initiative that will extend health insurance coverage to millions of Americans.

In addition to the House lawmakers who signed the letter to Republican leaders, there is support for denying funds to Obamacare from prominent Republican senators including Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida.

During the five-week summer recess, Obamacare has been riling up constituents at town hall-style meeting in lawmakers’ home districts, with both critics and supporters airing their views.

Republican Representative Tim Huelskamp of Kansas told Reuters there was a “large divide between Republican leaders in (Washington) D.C. and Republicans in the rest of the country.”

Huelskamp, who participated in the call and agrees with using the government shutdown strategy on Obamacare, said Republican leaders were ignoring that divide “at their own peril.”

Republican leaders have been working to find alternative ways to weaken the health law.

One idea under consideration is tying approval of an increase in the country’s borrowing limit to agreement by the Obama administration to delay implementation of the measure.

An aide to Cantor, the No. 2 House Republican, told Reuters on Wednesday that the debt limit was a good “leverage point” to try to force action on Obamacare.

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© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


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